Pumpkin Snickerdoodle Bars

As I’ve said before, fall is my favorite season.  Beautiful leaves are falling, gigantic local apples are showing up at the grocery store, there’s a crisp chill in the air, and best of all I get to do fall baking!  September is usually my apple-baking month, and in October it’s all about pumpkin.  Unfortunately, ever since reading an article about a possible pumpkin shortage last year, I’ve become just a little paranoid that one of these autumns, my grocery store will run out of canned pumpkin.  Being a completely devoted holiday/seasonal person, this would be as atrocious an ordeal as the time I ordered Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer on Netflix and it didn’t come until after New Year’s.  I still haven’t fully recovered from that one, and now I put all of my favorite Christmas movies on the Netflix queue well before Thanksgiving!  Yes, I have issues….

Anyway, around mid-September I gave in to my paranoia and start stocking up on canned pumpkin.  It usually just hangs out in my cupboard until early October, but this year I just couldn’t wait.  It was begging to be baked into something delicious, and who was I to say no?  I decided to do a little experimenting, and created these Pumpkin Snickerdoodle Bars, which are basically everything wonderful about fall baked into a bar.  They’ve got pumpkin, brown sugar, warm spices, and a crinkly cinnamon-sugar topping.  Also, these bars are quick to make, easy to transport, and yield quite a few, so I’m thinking they’d be perfect to bring to a larger gathering or Halloween party.  On the other hand, you could just hoard all the bars and eat them yourself.  I promise I won’t judge if you decide to go that route!

Pumpkin Snickerdoodle Bars

2 2/3 cups all-purpose flour

2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp allspice

1/4 tsp nutmeg

1/4 tsp ginger

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature

1/2 cup pumpkin puree

2 cups light brown sugar, packed

2 large eggs

2 tsp vanilla extract

Cinnamon-sugar topping:

2 Tbs granulated sugar

2 tsp cinnamon

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Grease a 9×13 baking pan and set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, and ginger.  Set aside.

In a large bowl, beat together the butter, pumpkin puree, and brown sugar until smooth.  Add in the eggs one at a time, beating until well-combined.  Beat in the vanilla.  Gradually add in the flour mixture, stirring just until incorporated.

Spread the mixture into the prepared pan (batter will be thick).  In a small bowl, combine granulated sugar and cinnamon and evenly sprinkle over the batter.  Bake for 25-30 minutes or until top is set and edges are golden-brown.  Let cool completely before cutting into bars.

Yield: 24-36 bars (depending on how large you cut them)

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Baked Apple Chips

I have a secret.  Well, not exactly a secret if you spend five minutes in the kitchen with me, but one that the average person doesn’t know about me.  And it is called, I suck as slicing.  And cutting.  And anything that involves creating uniformly-thick pieces of, well, anything.  My dad makes fun of my cheese slices, which are thick and slab-like at one end and paper-thin at the other.  My brother makes fun of my bread slices, which are usually short and stubby because my knife comes down at an angle and never makes it through the entire loaf.  By now you’re probably wondering what business I have writing a food blog.  Seriously, someone who is scared of pie crust and can’t cut carrot slices to save her life?  Writing a blog about cooking?  But whatever, we don’t live in a logical world.  If we did, nap time would be for high school kids instead of kindergarteners, Pringle jars would actually be big enough to fit your hand into, and the fear of long words would not be called hippopotomonstrosesquipedaliophobia.  Moving on…

My point is to not be deceived by the pictures of these apple chips.  Although they are uneven, cut through in some places, and far from picture-perfect, they still taste delicious.  And they are easy, healthy, and make your house smell like cinnamony fall goodness.  There’s nothing not to like.  Aaand there will be even less than nothing not to like when you make these yourselves, and your slices turn out round and beautiful and even.  In the meantime, I’ll just keep practicing my slicing, and maybe someday things will improve.  If I make these apple chips as many times as I intend to, since they’re that good, I’m sure I’ll be cutting like a human mandoline in absolutely no time at all.  Probably around the time that pigs fly. 🙂

Baked Apple Chips

2 large apples (any variety)

2 tsp cinnamon

Optional: 1/4 tsp allspice, 1/4 tsp nutmeg, and/or 1/4 tsp ground cloves

Directions: 

Preheat oven to 275 degrees F.  Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper or a baking mat.  Core both of the apples and slice them very thinly into discs.  Lay apple slices onto baking sheets, and bake for 1 hour.  Flip apples and bake for another 30-60 minutes, or until apples are slightly crisp and the edges begin to curl.  Bake time will depend on the thickness of your slices and the juiciness of your apples.

Biscoff Oatmeal Cookies

Remember last month when I posted my delicious creation of Biscoff-Swirled Banana Bread?  And you were so inspired that you went right to the grocery store (or online, if you’re like me and live in a ridiculously small town with a grocery store the size of a thimble) and bought yourself a nice jar of Biscoff Cookie Spread?  And then you went right to work and baked up a beautiful loaf of that delicious bread?  If you have no memory of this, I’m sure you’ll remember it soon….*hint hint*  Anyway, just like the little girl from Poltergeist (if you’re a 90s kid like me and actually watched those movies) would say, it’s baaaaack….

Biscoff, that is!  I had completely forgotten that when I made the genius decision of investing in my now-beloved Biscoff spread, I had ordered not one, but two jars.  And one of them had gotten pushed farther and farther back into my mess of a baking cupboard, only to be remembered, well, last week.  I was so excited when I spied this long-forgotten-better-than-peanut-butter treasure that I just had to bake something with Biscoff in it to celebrate.  Which brings me to these Biscoff Oatmeal Cookies.  I was tempted to pep them up with a cup of cinnamon chips or raisins, but I restrained myself.  The recipe promised that keeping them on the plain side would be for the better, and I’d have to agree.  These cookies ended up with a perfectly crisp exterior and a wonderful chewy interior, just like the best kind of oatmeal cookies.  But they were even better, because of that great Biscoff taste!  No add-ins were needed, just the perfect simplicity of oatmeal and Biscoff to work their magic.  Yum.

 

 

 

 

 

Biscoff Oatmeal Cookies

1 1/2 cups old-fashioned oats

1/2 cup + 2 Tbs all-purpose flour

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/8 tsp salt

1 tsp cinnamon

1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature

1/2 cup Biscoff Spread

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed

1 large egg

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Directions:

In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the oats, flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon.  Set aside.

In a large bowl, beat together butter, Biscoff, and sugars until smooth and creamy.  Add in the egg and vanilla extract and beat until well-combined.

Slowly stir in the oat mixture, mixing just until combined.  Chill the dough in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or a baking mat.  Drop dough by rounded tablespoonfuls onto prepared sheets and bake for 8-10 minutes, until edges are golden.*  Let cookies cool on the sheets for 5 minutes before removing to a cooling rack.

*Note: Be careful not to over-bake this cookies.  They’ll look puffy and slightly underdone after 8-10 minutes, but they’ll flatten up as they cool and will be chewy with crisp edges.  That said, if you like crunchy cookies, let them bake for a couple extra minutes 🙂

Cookie thief sighting!!

(Recipe adapted from Two Peas and Their Pod)

Recipe Round-up: 25 Great Blackberry Recipes

As this year’s blackberry season comes to a close, I figured it might be nice to post a recipe round-up of some great blackberry recipes from some of my favorite food blogs.  I don’t know about the rest of the country, but here in Washington we had a great crop of wild blackberries this summer.   My area of the state had such a cool, cloudy July that I was worried the berries wouldn’t make an appearance, but the end of August brought in a mini-heat wave and the bushes exploded with huge, juicy berries.  Yay!  I’ve been trying to use up these delicious berries as much as I can before the cold months arrive, and I’ve picked 3 gallon-sized bags’ worth of blackberries to freeze so that I can still enjoy them in the dead of winter.  It’s so nice to have a little taste of summer when the weather is cold and dreary.

So take a look at some of these fantastic recipes–they’re perfect to celebrate the last few weeks of blackberries before fall sets in!

Breakfast/Brunch:

Lemon Ricotta Blackberry Muffins from Two Peas and Their Pod

Blackberry Cream Cheese Muffins With Sweet Berry Drizzle from Picky Palate

Cornmeal Pancakes with Blackberry Syrup from The Pioneer Woman

Blackberry Cobbler Waffles from How Sweet It Is

Mini Blackberry Cream Scones from Eat, Live, Run

Blackberry Baked Oatmeal with Caramel Sauce from Inspired Taste

Desserts:

Bars:

Blackberry Pie Bars from Brown Eyed Baker

Blackberry Jam Shortbread Bars from Recipe Girl

Cakes/Cupcakes:

Blackberry White Chocolate Cupcakes from Your Cup of Cake

Blackberry Rhubarb Buttermilk Cake from Two Peas and Their Pod

Blackberry Cheesecake from The Pioneer Woman

Lime Yogurt Cake with Blackberry Sauce from Smitten Kitchen

Cookies:

Chocolate Blackberry Cream Cookies from Your Cup of Cake

Lemon Blackberry Cookies from Jen’s Favorite Cookies

Frozen Desserts:

Blackberry Ice Cream from Annie’s Eats

Blackberry-Lemonade Popsicles from Recipe Boy

Blackberry-Lime Sorbet from Annie’s Eats

Pies, Cobblers, & Crisps:

Blackberry-Apple Pie from Emma’s Baking Addiction

Blackberry Nectarine Crumble from Mel’s Kitchen Cafe

Blackberry Cobbler from Emma’s Baking Addiction

Healthier:

Blackberry Cardamom Oatmeal from Vegan Yack Attack

Gluten Free Blackberry Scones from Greener Ideal

Vegan Blackberry Smoothie from Glow Kitchen

Oil-Free Vegan Fudgey Blackberry Brownies from Low-fat Vegan Chef

Vegan Blackberry Coconut Crumble Bars from Yummy Mummy Kitchen

 

 

Apple-Cinnamon Chip Muffins

Once upon a time, I baked a batch of apple-cinnamon chip muffins, which were moist, delicious, and even on the healthier end of the spectrum.  Pans were washed, pictures were taken, and the rest of my family was given the okay to scarf them all down.  Unfortunately, the next step, which was to post them to my blog, did not happen.  At least not until now.  For the last few days, I’ve been plagued with a case of writer’s block.  I don’t know where it came from, but it might have something to do with my ridiculous load of school, homework, social obligations, weekend trips, jobs, exercise, college planning, and a head cold.  Oh yeah, and I’ve been trying to fit sleep in there, too.  Sadly, my poor little blog has been pushed to the bottom of my priority list.  Sorry, sorry.  But don’t worry, because now I’m digging it back out from the pit of procrastination!

Well, that’s enough moaning and groaning.  I’m sure my busy senior-year life isn’t exactly the most entertaining of topics, so I’d better stop complaining right now or I’m going to lose followers.  No more ranting.  Unless it’s ranting about how awesome these muffins are!  Remember them?  After all, they are supposed to be the subject of this post…they’re wonderful fall-themed muffins bursting with apple chunks and cinnamon chips (which you can usually find in Target, but are also available on Amazon.com).  Bake ’em, eat ’em, enjoy ’em.  The end.

Gosh, that was probably the worst blog post like, ever.  But I did tell you that I have writer’s block! 😉

Apple-Cinnamon Chip Muffins

2 cups peeled, diced apples

1/2 cup light brown sugar

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 cup whole wheat flour

1 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp salt

1 tsp cinnamon

1 large egg, beaten

1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce

1 tsp vanilla extract

1/2 cup cinnamon chips (optional)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.  Grease a 12-cup muffin tin or fill with paper liners.

Toss apples with brown sugar; set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flours, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon.  Make a well in the center and pour in the egg, applesauce, and vanilla.  Fold the wet ingredients into the flour mixture, stirring just until incorporated.

Fold in the apple mixture and cinnamon chips.  Spoon batter into prepared muffin tins and bake for 25-30 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.  Let the muffins cool for 5 minutes in the pan before removing to a wire rack.

Yield: 12 muffins

(Recipe adapted from Food.com)

Chewy Oatmeal Coconut Cookies

I have to admit, when I was searching my “to try” bookmarks folder for a new cookie to bake, I initially skipped right over this recipe.  Not that chewy oatmeal-coconut cookies didn’t sound good, they just seemed less exciting than some of my other bookmarked recipes…lime-coconut-white chocolate chip-macadamia nut cookies anyone?  Unfortunately I didn’t have any limes.  Or white chocolate chips.  Or macadamia nuts.  So those will be saved for another day.  My eyes returned to the oatmeal-coconut cookies, which I remembered had been an acclaimed “favorite cookie” of Mel from Mel’s Kitchen Cafe, who originally posted the recipe, and since I knew I had all the ingredients I decided to give it a whirl.  It’s not like simple can’t still be delicious, right?

Right, right right!  I was pleasantly surprised to find out that Mel calls these her new favorite cookies for a reason.  There’s something about these sweet, yet hearty, super chewy cookies that boosts them up to “favorite cookie” status.  Maybe it’s the shredded coconut, maybe it’s the double dose of vanilla, maybe it’s the copious amount of butter and sugar (hey, I never said these were healthy cookies!) but whatever it is, these cookies prove that appearances can be deceiving, that something that is seemingly plain or unexciting can end up being just as wonderful as its fancier counterparts.  I’m sure there’s a life lesson in there somewhere, but right now I’m just concerned with getting another one of these cookies.  Enjoy, friends!

Chewy Oatmeal Coconut Cookies

1 cup (2 sticks) butter, at room temperature

1 cup granulated sugar

1 cup light brown sugar, packed

2 eggs

2 tsp vanilla extract

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

1 cup shredded, sweetened coconut

1 cup rolled oats

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugars until creamy.  Beat in the eggs one at a time, followed by the vanilla.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.  Gradually stir the flour mixture into the wet ingredients.  Stir in the coconut and oats.

Drop dough by rounded tablespoons onto a lightly greased or lined baking sheet.  Bake for 9-11 minutes, until cookies are set and barely golden around the edges.  If you like crispier cookies, leave them in a little longer.

(Recipe adapted from Mel’s Kitchen Cafe)

Apple Cinnamon Bread

As a little girl, I always dreamed of having fruit trees in my own yard.  When I was about six, my family took a trip to a nearby nursery to purchase several small trees for our backyard.  What they had in mind, and what we ended up getting, were three little trees, but if had been up to me I would have ordered an orange tree, a lemon tree, and a peach tree.  Those were the types I had spied in one of the tree catalogs at the nursery, and no amount of logic (such as the fact that we lived in Colorado, not California) would seem adequate to justify my parents’ gentle “no’s.”

Sadly, I had to make do with the single skinny apple tree that grew next to our patio.  After living in our house for seven years, we finally determined its unwavering pattern.  Every other summer, the tree would burst with bright pink apple blossoms that ripened into little, green, surprisingly edible apples in the fall.  I loved going “apple picking,” though it was usually about 5 minutes and 6 apples later that the apple picking of the season drew to a close.   However small our tree’s bounty was, there was still almost always enough for an apple pie.  A big piece of homemade apple pie had an uncanny ability to erase my yearns for that lemon tree!

The following year, however, always proved to be a disappointment.  For some reason our tree had a switch that turned on one summer and off the next.  Without exception, that little apple tree could only handle the strain of producing apples every other year, so every second summer I would gaze sadly up at the spindly, bare branches and wait patiently for the following summer, when it would magically come back to life.  I haven’t lived in that house for nine years, but I wouldn’t be surprised if our determined little tree was still chugging (every other year, that is)!

Ironically, our house on the island is also home to a little apple tree, though it’s even weaker than the first.  To get the apples that I can’t reach, all I have to do is stand under the branches and shake the trunk (yes, the trunk!) and the ripe ones will fall down.  Sometimes right on my head, but that’s beside the point.  As small and scrawny as it is, this little tree is just as determined as our old one.  It manages to produce a few dozen Granny Smith-esque apples every. single. year.  *Gasp*  I went out the other day and came in with twenty-two apples, so I decided some baking was in store!  Enter this Apple Cinnamon Bread, which is full of fall flavors: cinnamon, a touch of allspice and cloves, and tart chunks of homegrown apple.  Add a crunchy brown sugar-cinnamon topping and you’ve got a winner!

Apple Cinnamon Bread

Bread:

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

2 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp allspice

1/4 tsp ground cloves

2 large eggs

1/4 cup vegetable oil

1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 cup granulated sugar

2 cups peeled, diced apples (about 2 medium apples)

Topping:

2 Tbs brown sugar

1 Tbs granulated sugar

1 tsp cinnamon

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Spray an 8″x4″ loaf pan with baking spray.  Set aside.

In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, allspice, and cloves.  Set aside.

In a large bowl, beat the eggs for about 30 seconds.  Add in the oil, applesauce, and vanilla and beat until well-combined.  Add in the cup of sugar and mix until smooth.

Gradually add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients, mixing just until incorporated.  Using a rubber spatula, fold in the diced apples.  Spread batter into prepared pan.

In a small bowl, combine the brown sugar, 1 Tbs granulated sugar, and cinnamon.  Sprinkle the mixture over the batter in the loaf pan.  Bake for 50-55 minutes or until edges are golden-brown and an inserted toothpick comes out clean.

Let the bread cool in the pan for 10 minutes before removing onto a wire rack.  Cool completely before slicing.

Yield: 1 large loaf

(Recipe adapted from Two Peas and Their Pod)